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Acta Agronomica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (5): 745-758.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1006.2020.94111


Effects of exogenous melatonin on physiology and yield of soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress

Jing-Nan ZOU,Qi YU,Xi-Jun JIN,Ming-Yao WANG,Bin QIN,Chun-Yuan REN,Meng-Xue WANG,Yu-Xian ZHANG()   

  1. College of Agronomy, Heilongjiang Bayi Agricultural University, Daqing 163319, Heilongjiang, China
  • Received:2019-08-01 Accepted:2019-12-26 Online:2020-05-12 Published:2020-01-14
  • Contact: Yu-Xian ZHANG E-mail:zyx_lxy@126.com
  • Supported by:
    This study was supported by the National Key R&D Program(2018YFD0201000);the China Agricultural Research System(CARS-04-01A);the Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province(C2017049);the Heilongjiang Provincial Land Reclamation Bureau Key Research Project(HNK135-02-06);the National Key Research and Development Project Sub-Project: Research on the Relationship between Drought-Resistant Irrigation and High-Quality and High-Yield Spring Soybean in Northeast China.(2018YFD1000905)


Drought stress reduces soybean yield. Exploring the mechanism of improving drought tolerance and reducing yield loss is of great significance for soybean production. Melatonin application can alleviate the growth inhibition and oxidative damage of plants under drought stress. In this experiment, the effects of foliar application of melatonin on photosynthesis, stress resistance, carbon and nitrogen metabolism and yield of soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress were studied in 2017-2018. The application exogenous melatonin increased the antioxidant enzyme activity, inhibited the production of reactive oxygen species, decreased cell membrane damage under drought stress, alleviated the inhibition of photosynthetic capacity by drought stress, improved the carbon and nitrogen assimilation ability, and alleviated the yield loss caused by drought stress. Compared with drought stress, the treatment of melatonin increased the number of pods per plant, the grain number per plant and the hundred grain weight by 2.9%, 0.8%, and 17.2% on average of two years, respectively, and the yield (grain weight per plant) increased by 14.7%.

Key words: melatonin, soybean, drought, photosynthesis, antioxidant system, carbon and nitrogen metabolism, yield

Fig. 1

Effect of exogenous melatonin on photosynthetic parameters and Rubisco activity of soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: net photosynthetic rate; B: stomatal conductance; C: transpiration rate; D: intercellular carbon dioxide concentration; E: water use efficiency; F: ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase. WW: keeping 80% of the field water holding capacity, from the beginning of the seed filling stage, and leaf spray with water for 5 d; D: no water supply and maintain 50% of the field water holding capacity at seed filling stage, and leaf spray with water for 5 d; MT+D: no water supply and maintaining 50% of the field water holding capacity at seed filling stage, and leaf spray with 100 μmol L-1 melatonin plus drought stress for 5 d. 10: the first sampling after 10 d of different treatments, at that time WW maintained 80% of field water holding capacity, D and MT+D stopped water supply water to reach 50% of field water holding capacity; 17: the second sampling after 17 days of different treatments, at that time WW maintained 80% of field holding water volume, D and MT+D maintained 50% field water holding capacity after the first sampling; 24: the third sampling after 24 days of different treatments, at that time WW maintained 80% field water holding capacity, D and MT+D maintained 50% field water holding capacity after the second sampling. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. "

Fig. 2

Effects of exogenous melatonin on chlorophyll fluorescence parameters of soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: photosystem II light energy conversion efficiency; B: photochemical quenching coefficient; C: apparent electron transfer rate; D: non-photochemical quenching coefficient; E: photosystem II actual photochemical efficiency; F: the actual maximum light energy conversion efficiency of photo system II. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Abbreviations are the same as those given in Fig. 1. "

Fig. 3

Effects of exogenous melatonin on leaf carbon metabolism in soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: sucrose phosphate synthase; B: sucrose synthase; C: acid invertase; D: neutral invertase; E: soluble sugar; F: starch; G: fructose; H: sucrose. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Abbreviations are the same as those given in Fig. 1. "

Fig. 4

Effects of exogenous melatonin on nitrogen metabolism in soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: ammonium nitrogen; B: nitrate nitrogen; C: nitrate reductase; D: glutamine synthetase; E: glutamate dehydrogenase; F: glutamate synthetase. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Abbreviations are the same as those given in Fig. 1. "

Fig. 5

Effects of exogenous melatonin on antioxidant enzyme activities in leaves of soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: superoxide dismutase; B: peroxidase; C: catalase; D: ascorbate peroxidase; E: glutathione reductase; F: glutathione peroxidase; G: monodehydroascorbate reductase; H: hydrogen ascorbate reductase. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Abbreviations are the same as those given in Fig. 1. "

Fig. 6

Effects of exogenous melatonin on antioxidants in leaves of soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: glutathione; B: ascorbic acid. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Abbreviations are the same as those given in Fig. 1. "

Fig. 7

Effects of exogenous melatonin on membrane lipid peroxidation in soybean during seed filling stage under drought stress A: superoxide anion production rate; B: hydrogen peroxide content; C: malondialdehyde content; D: relative conductivity. Bars superscripted by different letters are significantly different at P < 0.05. Abbreviations are the same as those given in Fig. 1. "

Table 1

Effect of exogenous melatonin on soybean yield and yield reduction rate and remission rate in seed filling stage under drought stress"

Pods per plant
Seeds per pod
Grain weight
per plant (g)
Hundred grain
weigh (g)
Yield reduction
rate (%)
Remission rate
2017 MT+D 24.80±1.52 a 46.63±6.92 a 9.75±0.83 b 16.55±2.21 b
D 24.32±2.15 a 46.27±4.47 a 8.61±1.42 bc 14.01±1.19 c -24.6 9.9
WW 25.80±1.40 a 47.70±3.40 a 11.42±1.89 a 20.78±0.83 a
2018 MT+D 22.08±0.64 ab 42.53±1.90 ab 7.01±0.72 c 16.11±1.24 b
D 21.23±0.75 ab 42.13±1.98 ab 6.03±0.43 cd 13.76±0.91 c -36.3 10.3
WW 22.54±0.14 ab 42.67±2.63 ab 9.47±0.27 b 21.52±0.91 a
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